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With an evening time-slot, this game should attract the biggest crowd of the day. The experience and previous form of Australia versus a New Zealand side with a huge crowd in support. A delicious prospect, and one not to be missed.

Result (Teams mentioned in the order they batted):

Skin 1
Skin 2
Skin 3
Skin 4
New Zealand

Umpire: James Jackson (NZ)

Although this game did not attract the biggest crowd of the day, it certainly produced the noisiest. And it was also the pick of the day's games.

Batting first, the New Zealand openers Liz Boys and Tracey Mortensen got off to a great start, taking 10 runs off the first over. Australia responded with runouts in both the 2nd and 3rd over, then Donna Dalby bowled Liz Boys in successive balls, leaving the New Zealand pair with a 13 run partnership.

Antoinette Spain and Kelly Hill then survived 5 third-ball situations before losing their only wicket (runout) on the last ball of their partnership. They scored 20, with Kelly scoring 17 of them off her own bat.

New Zealand's 3rd pair of Kelly Brown and Natasha Williams batted forcefully, losing only 2 wickets (stumped in their first over, bowled in their last). They put on 32 runs, with Kelly scoring 20, including one 4 and one 7. This left New Zealand on 65 runs after 12 overs, a good recovery from 13 after 4. It was then imperative that the last pair continue the momentum gained by the 3rd, and that's just what they did.

Maia Lewis and Helen Watson (Captain and Vice Captain) began their partnership by taking 15 runs from Julie Burnett's second over. Helen was bowled by Diane Brown in the next (from which they took 2 runs), then they helped themselves to 17 runs from Karina Bird's last over. With the score then on 99 and one over to go, New Zealand looked certain to score over 100. Unfortunately for New Zealand, they lost 2 wickets in that over (bowled by Renee Lee) and had to settle for 98. After being 13 after 4 overs, the New Zealanders must have been pleased, even if they would have liked to set Australia a few more. But they had a good total to defend.

The Australian openers (Renee Lee and Julie Burnett) lost only one wicket in their partnership, and batted with purpose and aggression. They scored 41, with Renee taking 24 from her own bat. It was just the start New Zealand didn't want to give up.

Australia's second pair of Donna Dalby and Karina Bird batted steadily, losing 2 wickets and coming out with a 26 run partnership. Australia had 67 after 8 overs and appeared to be travelling comfortably toward their target.

However, New Zealand were not spent yet. Diane Brown and Sam Dillon batted third, and they lost 3 wickets (Diane bowled by Maia Lewis, and both Diane and Sam stumped in Antoinette Spain's last over, the last of their partnership). On the 5th ball of Antoinette's over, Australia scored its 99th run--they were in front. Then the first of the stumpings, followed by a 2, then the second of the stumpings. With -4 off the over, Antoinette had dragged Australia back behind the New Zealand total, and given her team a glimmer of hope. Australia's last pair came in with the score on 91. Not far behind the New Zealand total, but behind all the same.

Cindy Kross and Wendy Clarke lost a wicket in their first over (runout), the hometown crowd lifted yet again, and we still had a game on our hands. 3 overs to go and Australia still behind.
The Australian batters then knuckled down, and despite an envigorated New Zealand (and crowd), they scored 8 off the 14th over. 3 runs ahead, 2 overs to go. New Zealand desperately wanted a wicket, but despite their best efforts the Australian pair took 8 off the 15th over. With an over to go, Australia were 11 runs ahead. New Zealand needed 3 wickets in 8 balls. But once again the Australian pair kept their wickets intact, and they gained in confidence as their lead increased. A bit of a flurry at the end of the over (when the pressure was gone), and Australia finished with a score of 123.

This was certainly a case where the final score did not do justice to just how close a game it really was. Australia chased their target well, but not without a few bumps (especially Antoinette Spain's over to Australia's 3rd pair). New Zealand just failed to take a couple of wickets early in the Australian to put more pressure on Australia's latter pairs.

The Australians lost 7 wickets, New Zealand 10. In the final analysis, that was the difference between these two sides. And that is not a huge difference by any stretch of the imagination.
New Zealand can look with confidence toward the next time they play the Australians in this tournament. And if things go as we believe they will, these two teams will play each other in the Grand Final.

Expect another great game.



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